How to Choose a Memory Foam Pillow

How to Choose a Memory Foam Pillow
Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that’s been treated with chemicals to give it special properties. It’s also known as viscoelastic foam, a moniker that accurately describes the way the material softens and contours in response to heat and pressure, gradually regaining its shape once heat and pressure are lifted.

 

Memory foam is popular in pillows because it molds to the head and neck, providing a supportive surface that can be shaped to the user’s liking. This close-conforming material is unrivaled in its ability to alleviate pressure points.

In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of memory foam and cover some of the most important aspects to look for when purchasing a memory foam pillow.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Memory Foam Pillow

The market is flooded with manufacturers who tinker with their memory foam to give it different qualities, such as using gel infusions to achieve better temperature neutrality. Some proprietary foams do succeed in their aims, but it can be very difficult to tell before trying the pillow out for yourself.

Before you shop for a memory foam pillow, it’s important to understand the basics behind how they are constructed and what kind of options exist. Focusing on the following factors can help you see past the marketing hype to choose the best memory foam pillow for you.

Memory foam pillows come in two types: one-piece and shredded.

  • One-Piece: One-piece memory foam pillows are made of a single solid block of memory foam. This can either be in the shape of a traditional pillow, or in a tailored shape that mimics the curves of the head and neck. One-piece memory foam pillows conform very closely and have a slower response to pressure. They tend to go back to their original shape when you take your head off the pillow.
  • Shredded: Shredded memory foam pillows can either contain 100 percent memory foam or be blended with other materials such as latex or fiberfill. The advantage of using shredded memory foam is that users can add or remove filling to adjust the pillow loft to their liking, as well as customize the shape of the pillow to a certain extent. Shredded memory foam generally allows more room for airflow compared to a one-piece memory foam pillow.

Here are some other factors to consider when buying your pillow:

  • Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position is one of the main things that will dictate what type of pillow you should choose. One-piece memory foam pillows tend to be higher and better-suited to side sleepers, while stomach sleepers often prefer shredded memory foam pillows with most of the loft taken out.
  • Price: Memory foam pillows have an average price-point, with shredded memory foam pillows running at a slightly higher price-point than one-piece pillows. Some companies offer free pillows along with a mattress purchase, which can be a good option if the pillow matches your needs.
  • Pressure Relief: Memory foam offers exceptional pressure relief, and both one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows conform closely to prevent pressure build-up in the head and neck. Because of its conforming abilities, memory foam is often used in specialized orthopedic pillows to help people with neck pain or other problems.
  • Quality Materials: Memory foam eventually loses its ability to bounce back to its original shape, which in turn affects its pressure-relieving capabilities. A pillow with higher-quality foam will last longer than an inferior one – a difference that is often reflected in the price.
  • Firmness Level: The ideal firmness level for your pillow depends on your sleep position, body type, and personal preference. Most memory foam pillows are medium soft to medium. One-piece memory foam pillows offer just one firmness level, but many shredded memory foam pillows allow users to customize the firmness level somewhat by adding or removing the filling.
  • Loft: A pillow with the right loft, or height, will help keep your head and back aligned and prevent neck pain. One-piece memory foam pillows usually have a medium to high loft, while shredded memory foam pillows can have the loft adjusted to virtually any height. While not as customizable as shredded memory foam pillows, some solid-foam pillows have removable inserts for users to choose between two or more settings.
  • Cooling Properties: Heat build-up in your pillow can make you uncomfortably warm and disrupt your sleep. Memory foam is notorious for heat retention, although today’s manufacturers use many techniques to get around this. Of course, shredded memory foam naturally allows more room for airflow, so all other things being equal, a shredded pillow will sleep cooler than a one-piece pillow.
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